New Plans for Urban Problems
In contrast to the urban strife of the Sixties, quiet summers have prevailed in most American cities in this decade. Though scars of past destruction are still in evidence, some localities have shown hopeful signs of progress. Once dilapidated neighborhoods in densely populated urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest are being refurbished, while new financial incentives and lowering crime rates have begun to attract businesses and needed tax dollars back to the cities.
But the disturbing fact, according to black spokesmen, is that most big cities are no better off now than they were 10 years ago. Many urban experts agree, contending that the same social and economic problems that contributed to civil unrest in the 1960s remain largely unsolved. Improved community services, better income and housing opportunities continue to be unrealized goals for most of the urban poor.
The Carter administration, after being accused of neglecting the cities, now seems committed to adopting a national urban strategy that concentrates on employment and incentives for new economic activities. While agreeing with social critic Nathan Glazer that there is less consensus now than in the past “on the ultimate causes of many serious urban problems,” most municipal officials nevertheless concur that America's cities cannot survive without massive financial assistance. Every major difficulty cities face today, said a spokesman for the United States Conference of Mayors, “boils down tomoney—too much is leaving and not enough is coming back.”